back to article Sony remembers it once made a great little phone

Sony has been saving its powder for the giant IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, where it's finally updated its phone range. Having used March's MWC event as more of a demo showcase, it's been a long wait for punters loyal to the Sony brand. At one stage, a few years ago, Sony was cranking out products that obsoleted …

  1. tiggity Silver badge

    skimpy RAM for flagship

    If trying to be flagship (albeit compact) then 4Gb RAM is not ideal future proofing given that apps seem to get more and more memory hungry, 6 or 8 would be more "flagship"

    ..though as I expect an eye watering price based on non UK price figures, RAM is fairly irrelevant as I won't be buying it!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: skimpy RAM for flagship

      I won't be buying it!

      Thanks for the heads up tiggity. We're agog to know what you will be purchasing across the whole spectrum of consumer goods, so do please take the time to let us know.


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: skimpy RAM for flagship

      4GB is ample. My Nexus5x has half that and runs Oreo just fine. Also being a Sony, it will come with quality RAM, which is just as important as quantity of RAM.

      This could be my next phone. I have always liked the Xperia range, it's leading the way features, close to stock and lack of bloat. They also support them pretty well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: skimpy RAM for flagship

        "My Nexus5x has half that and runs Oreo just fine."

        The decider will be how much skinning Sony do of Android, and how many of their apps are forced into memory on boot.

        I had a Huawei with 3GB, but the EMUI skin and half a dozen Updaters, cloudID, Messaging services supplied by the manufacturer. Out of the box, it would struggle to keep more than two or three apps open in the background due to lack of memory... a bit of hard work uninstalling, disabling, changing launchers and fettling saw that improve but compared to my 2GB Nexus5 before that it's clear they'd had to throw the extra GB of RAM in there just to run all the crud.

    3. ibmalone

      Re: skimpy RAM for flagship

      The S4 mini I'm looking to replace soon has 1.5GB, its follow-up S5 mini (the last Samsung high end compact) had the same. Their 2017 A3 (low/mid range) finally crept up to 2GB and the larger A5 (5.2") has 3GB. Heck, the flagship S8, 5.8" and released in April, has 4GB. Right now the market for compact is either budget small phones, mid rangers that generally have flaws, and now this.

  2. Dave 126 Silver badge

    I loved my Z3 Compact, but the official Sony case left one edge of the screen unprotected, allowing it to be shattered when I dropped it on a sharp edge. I should have bought a 3rd party silicone case for a fiver.

    I could reach about 85% of the screen with my thumb without readjusting my grip - on the Nexus 5 I'm using now that's about 65%. At the time I had an active job away from my vehicle, so a compact, pocket friendly model was most welcome. That said, this Nexus 5 is easier in the pocket than I expected it to be.

    I'm in no hurry to upgrade, so will wait for Qualcomm's/Google's/Apple's AR / 3D-scanning efforts to mature next year before getting a new handset.

  3. Ol' Grumpy

    OS Updates

    I'd be interested to know current Sony handset owners fair with updates. I had some of the earlier Android based Xperia handsets and getting security updates or the next release of Android never seemed to happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OS Updates

      Z5 compact still updating regularly.

      Shame the screen has smashed for the 3rd time in a year. Even with a silicon case it seems to be the most shatterable phone screen I've seen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: OS Updates

        The Z5 manual does tell you to use a screen protector. You can't say you weren't warned.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: OS Updates

          I'm sorry but 'screen protectors' do absolutely NOTHING to stop the screen from smashing. Sure, they protect the glass from scratches and scrapes but for anyone to think that slapping a ridiculously thin piece of glass atop their even thicker glass touch-screen is going to give it some sort of additional structural integrity has been smoking ze drugs!

          1. ibmalone

            Re: OS Updates

            A protector can provide some surface elasticity and reduce point stress from impacts, they tend to be plastic, not glass. Crack propagation is all about focal stress, structural integrity only really comes into it for the stresses it allows. Might be a small effect, but if the manufacturer suggests a protector then it's worth considering...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: OS Updates

            "I'm sorry but 'screen protectors' do absolutely NOTHING to stop the screen from smashing."

            I've not conducted any scientific tests, but I do go to the effort of buying glass screen protectors for my phones, and the rest of the family's devices. I've seen a few drops where the screen protectors have cracked but the screen is intact - including some really awkward early morning stumbles where I've basically just thrown my phone at the floor in a stupor.

            My gut feeling is that the energy absorbed by the screen protector cracking is sometimes enough that it doesn't transmit through to the digitiser below. Like I say, no scientific proof but I've seen lot fewer cracked screens on the kids phones since I started buying them a few years back, and they're not getting dropped any less.

            I'm not talking £25 Panzer Glass stuff either - my Pixel is sporting a natty little eBay number that was £4 for two.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: OS Updates

            "I'm sorry but 'screen protectors' do absolutely NOTHING to stop the screen from smashing."

            How do car windscreens work? They consist of two sheets of glass with a layer of plastic in between. When something hits the glass, the plastic absorbs shock and the lamination increases the rigidity. As a result the laminated screen is a great deal stronger than a sheet of glass of the same thickness. The glass can flex more than the solid screen without cracking.

            Now look at a glass screen protector. Between it and the screen is a layer of plastic. When installed correctly, the result is a laminated screen just like a car but on a small scale. However, unlike a windscreen, when the outer layer gets chipped you can peel it off and replace it.

            Do they work? So far I have had 3 glass screen protectors break on me without the screen itself having any damage. On one occasion I was pushed into a stone pillar and the face of the phone took the entire impact (it was an Experia Compact). The impact was sufficient to bruise one of my ribs. The screen survived. Another phone collided with a cast iron skillet. The screen protector cracked across. The phone screen was undamaged.

      2. hoola Silver badge

        Re: OS Updates

        I have had a Sony Z5 for a while now and it is just awesome. On the case from a CaseMate Tough Case has protected the phone well after numerous drops onto hard floors, concrete etc. If the first contact point of screen is a small point (small stone etc) when you drop it then invariably the screen will crack. The exception to this based on experience with an HTC One M7 is if you have one of the semi-flexible Air-Glass protectors from Brotect.

        On the updates front I cannot complain. It came with 5.x and had received OTA updates through 6.x and is currently at 7.1.1. Even an ancient Z2 tablet has been updated OTA to 6.x. This is far better than many suppliers. My daughter's Z5 compact is the same. From a performance perspective the Compact cannot be faulted. This is in the same CaseMate case and has survived being used by a teenager.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OS Updates

      Pretty good. My 3 year old Xperia Z3 tablet has a reasonably upto date patch, or bang upto date if you want to run LineageOS.

    3. Philip Storry

      Re: OS Updates

      As others have said, not too bad.

      Sony are never first to new versions, but their commitment isn't to be doubted.

      My Z1 came with Android 4.3, got updated to 4.4, and then updated to 5.0.

      My Z3+ came with 5.0, and got updates to 6.0 and 7.0.

      I'm on a Xperia Z5 Premium right now, and it came with 6.0 and has had updates to 7.0 and 7.1. I will be very surprised if it doesn't get an update to 8.0 at some point, but my contract's due for renewal soon so I may not see it personally.

      When I say "Sony aren't first", I'd guess there's usually a lag of a few months or so from release of new version to Sony pushing it out.

      Some security updates have also arrived, but my phone is currently on the 1st June 2017 security patch level - it would be nice if they were actually monthly, but they seem to be quarterly at the moment.

      Overall I'm not unhappy with the commitment Sony have shown over the three phones I've had. I'm inclined to buy a Sony again, if possible.

      My only other candidate was a Google Pixel - which will naturally have much better updates. But the next version is rumoured to have no headphone jack, and if that's true it can get stuffed. At the moment Sony have the best balance of great hardware, decent (light) Android customisation and a history of shipping updates. There's room for improvement, but compared to much of the competition they're doing pretty well.

      Too long? Didn't read? You can expect two full OS version updates on a Sony phone, maybe three.

      1. Ol' Grumpy
        Thumb Up

        Re: OS Updates

        Thanks for your feedback folks - appreciated! :)


    Um, forgetting the Z5 Compact..? Great little phone.

  5. Celion

    "But after the release of the Z3 Compact in late 2014, Sony lost the plot, failing to give us a new Compact until last year, ..."

    So the Z5 Compact does not exist? If you include that, Sony just moved from a 6-month cycle to a 12-month one.

  6. phuzz Silver badge

    I really wish the trend wasn't towards thinner phones with larger screens. What I'd prefer is a smaller screen and a fatter phone with a big battery.

    1. James 51

      I've got my n900 in a draw at home. Sounds like what you're after.

      1. thomas k

        OMG, I love my N900!!!

        As a little boombox it has a couple of advantages over my HTC One, mainly not have to press the power switch to awaken the screen. More storage, too.

      2. J. R. Hartley

        Somebody's triggered da 900 cru

  7. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    How well does "predictive capture" work?

    The camera boasts "predictive capture", a fairly common trick nowadays with the phone snapping shots continuously and discarding those just before the moment the shutter was pressed.

    On my CyberShot phones I use BestPic. I found many times I hit the shutter a split second early in anticipation but most times I hit the shutter a split second too late. BestPic's ability to capture several frames before and after the shutter (four before, one at, and four after) is very handy to capture the single event and also to catch stages of the event in various frames.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rumour has it that the mapping app will be known as Route Kit in honour of Sony's illustrious past.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yawn, you have been posting this lame tripe for 10yrs, I thought you would have grown up by now, or at least learnt what a rootkit is, and how this wasn't..

  9. Dylan_T42

    Will it match the Z3C's battery life?

    Being the owner of 3-year-old Z3C that still runs for 36 hours per charge, the smaller screen / fatter phone combo works for me. I still take it out canoeing albeit with replacement seals, though I think the waterproofing has held up because it normally charges via the magentic contacts, so don't open the USB cover every day.

    Sony didn't put magentic or Qi charging in the Z5C and the USB port was permanently exposed - not good with any other than very clean water. I think the ZX Compact dropped waterproofing & so it's really good to see that come back as mine's not had a security update since May 2016 :-(

    It would be good if manufacturers made more robust phones and properly supported them for longer. My wife's Z3C also gets updates of Sony's own software but despite an upgrade to Marshmallow 6.0.1 last year, & still having 3 months warranty left, it is also a year out of Android security patches.

    But do I fancy paying £1/day to have an uptodate smartphone?

  10. Snorlax Silver badge

    Sony once made a great little phone?

    The last great little phone Sony made was the CMD-Z1.

  11. big_D Silver badge

    Oh, I thought you meant the CMD Z1 Plus

    Funny, I was just thinking about this phone today.

  12. MondoMan

    X Compact is nice

    I recently picked up a US version X Compact for $300 at Amazon and really love it. Although the article snubs it as a midrange phone, I haven't noticed any slowness, and by flashing it with the UK version firmware, the fingerprint scanner works great. I've also read that it really is constructed as IP68 waterproof, but Sony doesn't want to make a legally binding claim on that in the US.

    $600 is way too much for the new Compact mentioned in this article.

  13. Red Bren

    "US SIM-free prices are $699.99 (XZ1) and $599.95 (XZ1 Compact), while UK RRP will be confirmed later today."

    Based on the way the exchange rate is going, £699.99 and £599.95 might actually be a decent RRP, rather than the usual swap-the-dollar-for-a-pound-sign scam that often occurs in rip-off Britain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Based on the way the exchange rate is going, £699.99 and £599.95 might actually be a decent RRP, rather than the usual swap-the-dollar-for-a-pound-sign scam that often occurs in rip-off Britain.

      Probably the one good thing that Brexit is responsible for: it dropped the pound so much it's almost at parity with the dollar so the usual currency sign swap scam doesn't cost so much..

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope compact phones become fashionable again

    At the moment the iPhone SE is about your only option for something with a little oomph in a smaller form factor that's not eye-wateringly expensive. I don't consider phones with 5+" screens mobile because they limit your choices of attire!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I hope compact phones become fashionable again

      What attire are you unable to wear if you have a phone larger than 5"?

      1. Francis Boyle

        Re: I hope compact phones become fashionable again

        Well if you're a women you can't tuck it into your bikini top unless you're very well endowed. On the other hand, if you're a man you can't tuck it into your speedos unless you have the chutzpah to pretend you're very well endowed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I hope compact phones become fashionable again

          On the other hand, if you're a man you can't tuck it into your speedos unless you have the chutzpah to pretend you're very well endowed.

          Not unless you want to explain that you were run over by a steamroller or add padding to ensure it doesn't look quite as flat :)

  15. ISP

    My Z3C is still going strong, shame the Android 7 update was nixed by changes to the hardware qualification by Google so hardly Sony's fault. While it was in beta.

    I'll see what the price is like in six months, could be a winner.

  16. Ralph B

    Head Scanning?

    > Other gimmicks here include 3D scanning. Sony claims it can scan a head in around a minute.

    Erm, why do we need to be able to scan our heads? How did this get on a feature list for a phone?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Head Scanning?

      "Erm, why do we need to be able to scan our heads? How did this get on a feature list for a phone?"

      You don't.

      /They/ do.

  17. ukgnome

    If it has a vanilla OS version it might be OK

    Although all the Sony phones I have owned have been utter crap.

    1. ZillaOfManilla

      Do they still bundle a load of Sony bloat that can't be disabled?

      I went nexus because of that crappy "what's new" app

  18. MT Field

    Sony make a good a lightweight version of Android, with only a few unremovable bloaters. Google is the sinner here with Play Services eating through your battery and data allowance while your phone is in your pocket. Unfortunately when you do get the OS updates from Sony they tend to remove the useful features that were added to the base Android you bought it for: Goodbye small apps, goodbye smart events, goodbye magnetic charging docks (OK that one's hardware).

    Despite this I could see one of those new compacts in my future, perhaps 11 months from now?

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